General Jurisdiction Court

General Jurisdiction Court in the United States

Introduction to Courts of General Jurisdiction

A trial court that has the power to respond to a broad range of issues. The term jurisdiction defines a court’s authority, and courts with general jurisdiction may properly hear civil and criminal cases of various kinds as well as act in an appellate capacity in specified situations. U.S. district courts are the federal trial courts of general jurisdiction. Every state judicial system will have one (possibly more) general jurisdiction trial court, typically located at the county level. (1)

Analysis and Relevance

The general jurisdiction court is the workhorse of any judicial system. A general jurisdiction court is distinct from a court of limited or special jurisdiction, which is a court that entertains a highly particularized docket. Commonly, a court system has multiple courts with a general jurisdiction court and several courts of limited jurisdiction. Rather than categorize under general and limited jurisdiction labels, some characterize courts as either major or minor. A major trial court will hear felony criminal cases, civil cases involving money values in excess of a certain level (usually $10,000), and possibly possess some appellate authority. Minor courts, on the other hand, deal with misdemeanor cases, traffic matters, small claims, and other civil questions of limited monetary value. (2)

Trial Courts: Courts of General Jurisdiction

Felony prosecutions and major civil trials take place in courts of general jurisdiction, which are empowered to hear many kinds of cases. These courts are often called superior courts, although the name varies by state. Every year more than 10 million cases or prosecutions are filed in these courts. Fewer than 2 percent of these ever come to trial. Most civil cases are settled by the parties and most criminal defendants enter plea bargains-that is, they plead guilty to the crime charged or to a lesser offense.” (3)


Notes and References

  1. Definition of General Jurisdiction Court from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California
  2. Information about Courts of General Jurisdiction in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia

See Also

General Jurisdiction Court: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about General Jurisdiction Court. This part provides references, in relation to General Jurisdiction Court, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about General Jurisdiction Court by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about General Jurisdiction Court and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about General Jurisdiction Court or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to General Jurisdiction Court and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting General Jurisdiction Court. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about General Jurisdiction Court should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to General Jurisdiction Court when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment